Posts tagged ‘grandparents’

grandparents that disobey

Echo spent some time with my mom tonight and came home high with happiness. She kept squealing, “I’m broken from laughter!” I was the consummate mother, looking at the clock and hoping to corral her into teeth brushing and bed, but she was just too delirious. Apparently Grammie and Echo had gotten the giggles on the way over and Echo simply did not want the fun to end. She kept flinging herself on the dog bed and forcing out loud guffaws. The laughter wasn’t even natural anymore but she kept at it, trying to keep the magic alive, drunk from hilarity.

Eventually she threw herself at the Feeleez poster and said “I feel like this girl. Happy.”

Bedtime scheduling aside, it was so pleasing to see her in this way. She was a different person. The hour apart, the influence of a loving grandparent, the scent of someone else’s bubble bath, all conspired to create a new being. Of course I recognized my little girl, but it was delightful to see who else she is.

When you parent like we do, that is to say when you pay excruciatingly close attention and make daily, hyper-conscious choices in the raising of your children, it can be tricky making room for a grandparent. Will they say what we want them to say? Will they remember to use empathy as a first response? Will they buy organic string cheese??????? We’ve thought long and hard about these things and it’s difficult to suddenly let them go.

My sister and I spent every Friday night with our beloved Gramma, even into our teens. Eventually Emily, the older sister, was having to decide between keg parties with surfers or Love Boat with Gramma, that’s how long the ritual continued. But Gramma recently told me that when my mom and dad dropped us off at her house they always left her a long verbal list of rules and regulations. Apparently Gramma smiled, nodded, agreed, shut the door, promptly erased the list from her mind, and did what she wanted with her grandkids. The kid in me thought this was hilarious, the parent in me was alarmed.

Grandparents eschewing the rules parents have diligently researched? Oh no.

But when I saw Echo tonight, I put to rest any concerns about our parents parenting our children “correctly”. They aren’t going to do it the same way that we do, and  our children will still be just fine, even better. Parents have a HUGE influence on their children, an influence that, for better or worse, follows them into adulthood, so an evening with Grammie does not run the risk of erasing any well-intentioned conditioning we have attempted. What the children will remember from the night is not that Grammie deviated from the proper script, but that she is silly, fun-loving, and that she adores them.

And even when grandparents do ad-lib, improvising their own solutions to child dilemmas, the girls get the benefit of seeing how other people do things, how they respond, or how they feel. These experiences, especially when they come under the protection of loving family, are enriching.

Our little Echo found new parts of herself in the presence of Grammie, parts that might have remained hidden if my mother had performed a perfect imitation of me.


June 11, 2010 at 7:43 am 3 comments

who’s your grandpa?

holding hands

This is what we all want right? A strong pillar of immense unconditional love, adoringly accompanying us through our journeys, and smiling benevolently all the while.

Moms and dads make sure the teeth are brushed and say no to watching another movie. Grandparents play, snuggle, paint toe nails, read stories, and watch new jumping skills. Okay, parents do all this too, but grandparents have full licence to do only these things. And hear hear to that.

But maybe we school-marmy parents could take a lesson from the grandparent playbook, and do a little less of the herding, chiding, and reminding, and a little more of the just plain adoring. Sure, the laundry will pile up, and yes, the teeth will develop a yellow fuzz, but these tasks do not have to be all consuming.

Today I watched my dad watch Echo jump, what seemed like a hundred times, and each time he was really watching.

I was grandparented well and I know what that feels like. I want that for my children. I want to be that for my children. But I also want to be that for my partner, for my sister, for my mother and father. I want to be that, for instance, for the crabby waitress at the airport lounge that wanted to go home so badly.

And why not? The more I think about it the more I question why I would ever want to be any different. If I were able to choose a part to play, I would not consciously choose the negative controlling one. I would not aspire to be the woman that holds her man back, or the friend that gently undermines relationships with cheery but cleverly cutting remarks.

So instead I will consciously choose the grandparent role. I’m going to grandparent every human being I can. I’m going to chuckle indulgently and let my eyes crinkle with delight. I’m going to murmur gently and talk in the third person, here, baby, let Gramma make it better for you.

Okay, I might do this silently and invisibly, maybe never even actually interact, but I know that my intentions will be felt regardless. It feels good to be loved.




November 4, 2009 at 5:00 am 2 comments

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